MotoGP

How the British GP at Silverstone Became Canceled

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On Saturday evening, Stuart Pringle, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuit, told a small group of journalists that the delays and problems caused by the wet track during FP4 were due to the unusually heavy rainfall, and not the resurfaced track.

“It was a Biblical downpour,” he told us. “It was more like a monsoon you’d see in Malaysia than heavy, normal rain. The drainage on the circuit is very good.” He was not worried about racing on Sunday, because although rain was forecast, it was not a deluge.

“It’s heavy rain, but it’s not the kind of cloud burst stuff we saw earlier. Is it going to be more of a challenge if it’s wet? All circuits are more challenging in the wet than the dry. So I think we’re set for a good race tomorrow.”







Sunday proved Stuart Pringle wrong.

It wasn’t the quantity of water which caused the problems. It was the fact that water simply wasn’t being drained fast enough to allow riders to ride safely, or as safely as can reasonably be expected of traveling at over 300km/h on a wet track, braking as late as possible in a close pack, as 23 riders battle for position in the opening laps.

There was standing water in just about every section of the track, causing the MotoGP bikes to aquaplane while on their sighting lap, a lap taken usually at nine tenths, rather than ten tenths. They were aquaplaning while accelerating, at speed, and while braking.







Bikes aquaplaning had caused Tito Rabat and Franco Morbidelli to crash while braking for Stowe.

But Morbidelli had crashed after Rabat, and the Italian’s Honda had flown across the gravel and struck Rabat as he sat in the gravel trap, breaking the femur, tibia and fibula in his right leg, and putting him out of action for months rather than weeks.

Nobody who saw that wanted to suffer the same fate. Or worse.

Monitored







The mess of FP4, and especially Rabat’s injury, caused Dorna to reevaluate the schedule for Sunday’s race. After consultation with the UK government’s weather service, the Met Office, it was decided that the best chance for holding a MotoGP race would be to start as early as possible.

Rain was expected to start falling some time around 11am, then get heavier as the day progressed. The starting order of the Moto3 and MotoGP races was swapped, and the start of the MotoGP race set for 11:30am.

Starting earlier was not an option, Race Director Mike Webb explained in a press conference organized at the end of a thoroughly disastrous day for the Silverstone circuit. “We discussed with the teams and agreed on the times to start,” Webb explained.

“We discussed about earlier starts, but the teams and more specifically the organizers need a certain amount of time to get the people into the circuit in the morning, and that is also a consideration.”

“We need to consider the promoters’ needs as well. The compromise and the times agreed were after consolation with all teams and the promoters.”

It started spitting with rain during Moto3 warm up, then turning to light rain by the end of the session. It kept raining through the Moto2 warm up, the track still wet, but so far, free of standing water.

It kept raining for the 40 minutes between the end of Moto2 warm up and the MotoGP teams going out to the grid for the start of the race. In that period, standing water had started to collect on Silverstone’s new surface.

When the riders returned from their sighting lap, a delegation went to talk to IRTA and Dorna officials about conditions. The track was unsafe, they reported.

There was standing water all around the track – not just in the braking zones for Stowe and Vale, as there had been during FP4 on Saturday – and the bikes were aquaplaning everywhere. The start was delayed until weather conditions improved.

Long Periods of Boredom.

And so we waited. The rain fell, and we waited some more. It got heavier, and our hopes sank. It eased off, and our hopes were raised, until we saw the images of the safety car struggling to maintain traction in the standing water on the track.

If a car weighing some 1900kg, with four wide tires was struggling for grip, how would a 157kg MotoGP bike on a few centimeters of rubber manage?

As some of you may know, I have been working as pit lane reporter for the Eurosport Netherlands, the Dutch-language feed of the international broadcaster.

This can sometimes be a disadvantage during a race, but this time, it gave me a unique insight into what was going on, and the general atmosphere among the teams. I asked people on air what they thought, and killed the time waiting in informal chats with others.

The overwhelming majority of responses from riders, team managers, crew chiefs, and others was that it was just impossible to race. A wet track is one thing, standing water is another.

Riders were mostly convinced that not racing was the right decision, with a few exceptions. Jack Miller felt frustrated that the entire paddock had put on a show, and the fans had come from all over to sit in the rain, and there was nothing for them to see.

Both Scott Redding and Bradley Smith were very disappointed that they would not be able to race in what would have been their last home Grand Prix for the foreseeable future.

Redding was especially frustrated, knowing how fast he was in the wet, and knowing that a good result at Silverstone would be a big boost for him in finding another ride for next year.

As he passed me as he was leaving the grid after the race was delayed for the first time, Loris Baz shouted into my microphone, “I want to race!”

Overwhelmingly, however, the reaction, from riders such as Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith, and from team managers and others, was that it was simply not safe. Everyone wanted to race. But with Tito Rabat’s injury fresh in their minds, they were all too aware of the risks involved.

Everyone expressed both sympathy and admiration for the crowds who sat waiting patiently in the grandstands, in the freezing cold and the pouring rain, with nothing to look at except replays, slow-mos, and messages from the organization.

The Wrongdoers

The circuit could count on a great deal less sympathy. “We raced here in worse weather in 2015 with no problems,” one senior factory person commented to me, their face signaling a combination of frustration and disgust.

The word which cropped up again and again was “disaster”, in English, in Spanish, in Italian, in every language spoken in the paddock. And the blame was laid entirely at the door of the circuit, or at the door of the contractor responsible for the resurfacing, who were brought in by the circuit.

An hour passed. Then another hour. The safety car went out at regular intervals to inspect the track. At a certain point, the circuit sent out sweeper trucks to try to clear what water they could from the surface.

If anything, those efforts just emphasized how bad the problems with the new asphalt were. As the trucks passed, they left a section of track which had been cleared of water, into which water quickly seeped. Within a minute or so of them passing, the track was just as wet as it had been before.

Meetings were convened to discuss what to do, the general gist of which was to wait as long as possible to try to race, sacrificing each race as the projected schedule began to exceed the amount of daylight left.

It was decided that racing on Monday – an official holiday in the UK – would not be possible, four factory teams rejecting the idea. The race start was scheduled for 2pm, pending a track inspection at 1:30pm.

Cars lapped, but the track was still too wet. Another inspection was to be held at 3pm, and again, the track was too wet.

Nearly There

A statement was issued to the teams: there would be a track inspection at 4pm, with the hope of starting a race at 4:50pm. If the track still wasn’t ready, then we would continue to wait, dropping races until we ran out of daylight, with a hard limit of finishing proceedings by 7:30pm.

The track inspection didn’t happen. About 20 minutes before, riders started gathering in the IRTA office truck, to discuss what to do next. Rider safety liaison Loris Capirossi arrived, as did Dorna bigwigs Carmelo Ezpeleta and Manel Arroyo.

Team managers came too, making their way through a throng of fans and media. The riders gathered in the meeting room, while team managers waited in the corridor outside.

Around 3:55pm, the riders came out. Though neither riders, officials, nor team managers were keen on talking, the message was clear. We would not be going racing. The British Grand Prix was canceled, all three races.

“We have to address the situation of why we didn’t race today, Cal Crutchlow explained later that evening. “As has been explained, the Safety Commission decided it was not possible to race today in any condition – if it continued to stop raining or if it continued to rain.”

“Just simply because if it rained a lot when you are halfway around the lap, and you get to the next corner you don’t know how deep the water is. You don’t understand the situation, like we didn’t yesterday and you saw what happened, five guys crashed.”

High Risk, Low Reward

There may have been a brief space of time where they could have attempted to start a race, at least, Crutchlow said, but it was a huge risk.

“There was a window earlier in the day, I felt as well. I don’t know the reasons why we didn’t go out or not to go then. But earlier when we went to the grid, it was impossible to race. That’s for sure.”

“Then also in afternoon they were still trying to disperse the water for a long time. And then it started to rain again. So when the actual people were out on the track trying to move the water, it started to rain again after that window.”

“So in the end I don’t really know if there was a massive window. Then if you go out on the track and like I said, it downpours like yesterday, you’re in big, big trouble.”

The problems with the surface were everywhere, Crutchlow reported. “It was most of the track, yeah. I came out of pit lane and started to change gear and you were just spinning, spinning… and not spinning like a used tire, you were spinning on surface water.”

“So you can imagine when you shut the throttle or brake with the front brake, you are aquaplaning with the front not the rear. You can half manage to aquaplane with the rear because you have a throttle in your hand.”

“But when you have a brake in your hand and it’s to do with the front it’s a lot more difficult, the situation. There were dryer parts of the track, but it was completely offline and that wasn’t the issue. The issue was going to be when 23 bikes on the track and you’re all trying to race.”

Marc Márquez had also seen a very brief window in which a race could have been started, but the weather would never have held for 16 laps.

“There were ten minutes from 2pm to 3pm where it was possible to race, but who could guarantee that by lap three heavy rain would not start on the back straight and we would arrive there with everyone aquaplaning and [there being] a big injury like yesterday or a big accident?”

“In other circumstances…I mean it was not raining a lot but a problem was the asphalt and next year we want to come back here and try to compensate all these fans but to come back in a good way we need to resurface the asphalt.”

The Repsol Honda rider described how the decision to cancel the race had been taken.

“They organized a safety commission and we sat together there and we analyzed. Personally – and all the riders I think – I want to thank Dorna because they listened to us and our comments and since we started the meeting they said ‘you will have the decision’ and in the end everybody gave their opinion.”

“We have one mate in the hospital with a very big injury so we considered the safety first of all and there was no way.”

No Control

Márquez described the total loss of control which aquaplaning on a motorcycle entails. “It’s like when you drive in the wet and when you cannot control the car. The bike is the same,” he said. “You arrive there, you try to brake and it doesn’t work, you just go straight and with the bike.”

“You cannot turn or do anything. That’s the most dangerous. There was not a lot of water in parts but with the bumps and everything there were some areas with a lot of water, and when you arrive there it is so easy to crash and lock the brakes.”

“That’s the problem. If you are riding alone on the track you can manage, but with 24 bikes riding, if you crash or someone crashes behind you, it becomes very dangerous.”

Both Márquez and Crutchlow were devastated for the fans who had paid out good money, traveled to Silverstone, sat all day in the rain, and leave again having seen no racing whatsoever.

“It was hard to wait and to see and then to take the decision, because we want to race, and we could see all the fans in the grandstand and we wanted to ‘compensate’ them,” Márquez said.

“I’m very disappointed and devastated that the fans never got to see a race today,” Crutchlow said. “Also for everybody who watched, who turned up, who worked all weekend, the marshals that sat there. As I said, it’s disappointing, but we all wanted to race.”

“All the riders came here this weekend to race. It’s not that we just turn around and say, ‘we’ll have a weekend off’. We don’t want to be sat here either not being able to put on a show for the fans that have turned up. We tried our best, but this was the decision of the Safety Commission, that we wouldn’t ride.”

In a Brewery

Márquez and Crutchlow were not the only riders to feel sorry for the fans that they had come all that way, suffered through so much, and left again unrewarded. On Monday, Dorna released a video in which a number of riders offered their apologies for not being able to race.

Afterwards, there were complaints from some riders who had not been invited. Andrea Dovizioso had not been present, nor had Valentino Rossi, Scott Redding, or Loris Baz.

That was because the meeting had not been convened by either Dorna or IRTA, in their capacity as organizers of the series or team organizers respectively.

What had happened was that riders had started to head to the IRTA offices, to discuss the situation with IRTA staff. Aleix Espargaro and Dani Pedrosa appear to have been the first to head to the IRTA trucks, and then word had got round.

Jorge Lorenzo headed there after being informed by his and Espargaro’s manager Albert Valera, while Marc Márquez saw other riders entering the IRTA truck on the Dorna live TV feed, which was playing in garages and in race trucks, and had headed in the same direction.

That lack of organization meant that not everyone was represented, though perhaps only five or six riders were missing. The overwhelming majority of the riders present had voted to abandon the event, however, with only Jack Miller and Johann Zarco stating that they wanted to race.

Even if all 23 riders had been present, that would not have swayed the vote.

Context Matters

That doesn’t excuse the fact that such an important decision was taken in an ad hoc fashion. Safety Adviser Loris Capirossi was called to the meeting urgently, just as he was about to commence a track inspection.

Once riders started assembling, someone in authority should have taken the lead to call an official meeting, and ensure that everyone who wanted to be there, was there.

Again, that probably would not have changed the decision of the majority. And if the majority of the riders decide something is unsafe, Dorna follows their lead, almost unquestioningly.

“I feel there is a good relationship between the riders and Dorna,” Bradley Smith had said on Saturday. “I believe there is enough trust, belief and faith in that we have to do with what is safe. We are here to be safe; that’s one thing that Dorna does fantastically.”

Privately, some senior paddock figures will tell you that they feel that the riders have too much power over certain decisions, and that Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is too willing to concede to rider demands.

Sometimes, they will tell you, the tail is wagging the dog. In this case, however, the dog was happy to be wagged. And it was the right thing to do.

Mike Webb Speaks

Not long after the impromptu safety commission had disbanded, after deciding to cancel the race, Dorna organized a press conference to explain what had happened.

Race Director Mike Webb, along with MotoGP Safety Advisor Loris Capirossi and FIM Grand Prix Safety Officer Franco Uncini explained the decision, and fielded questions from journalists.

“We have been forced to cancel today’s event due to the track conditions,” Webb said. “Primarily, it’s due to water accumulated on the surface. I think you’ve all seen the results of when we’ve been running in heavy rain that the circuit in some places is not safe, because of the way the water does not drain from the surface.”

“We did everything we possibly could to run an event today. Obviously the very last thing any of us wants to do is to cancel an event, however safety remains our priority.”

Webb went on to outline what Race Direction, in conjunction with the circuit and Dorna, had done in order to try to put on a race.

“We attempted to start the race this morning,” he said. “It was obvious the track conditions weren’t safe. After that, in consultation with the riders we made a start delay to discuss the situation further.”

“When it was obvious that the track condition was not improving – even when the rain abated a little, the track surface was still too wet – we discussed various options, including running tomorrow. That was discussed with the teams and with the circuit promoters, the organizers.”

“It was concluded that that was not a possibility. So the other possibility that the circuit requested, that we agreed with, was to delay today as much as possible until such time as the conditions were safe.”

“We’ve reached the point where even though the rain is getting less, the circuit is still not in a condition that we could safely run races. So we’ve taken the very difficult regrettable decision to cancel.”

New Asphalt

The culprit was obviously the new surface. MotoGP had raced at Silverstone in 2015 in worse rain, and that had gone off without incident. There had been plenty of rain in other years too, including a deluge in 2011.

“We’ve had a number of years’ experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and have been able to run races,” Webb said. “This year, with the new surface, it’s the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. So yes, it’s a direct result of the track surface.”

Webb acknowledged the efforts the circuit had made to try to stage a race during the day.

“I must say from the circuit point of view, the staff have done an unbelievable effort over the whole weekend, not just today, but an enormous effort to try to make the track safe. Until the last minute they were still working, but unfortunately we couldn’t battle nature.”

The plan, had the track been clear enough to even consider a race, was to have a short session of practice first, Webb explained.

“What we were always aiming at, depending on the weather, was, the first possibility was a short practice session of 10 minutes or so, to evaluate the track, and then on to running what’s already in the rule book, the wet start procedure where you open the pit lane for 10 minutes instead of 5 and let them through.”

“That’s what the start procedure was going to be. Should we have started the race, it would have been a wet race start procedure, to allow them more time on track.”

The track never cleared up enough to even consider that option, however. Webb: “But we never really got to that point, because even with the rain almost zero, the track conditions weren’t improving, even with sweeping it.”

“So the real decision was the track condition rather than how much practice time had been available or anything like that.”

Moto3 and Moto2

Even though Moto3, with much lower speeds and narrower tires, would have been less affected by the rain, and not had so much to fear in terms of aquaplaning, trying to run Moto3 was never considered an option.

“If the Safety Commission conclusion is that the track is unsafe, it’s unsafe for everybody,” Mike Webb said. “So I think it’s irresponsible of us to think that we could not run a MotoGP race and then send Moto3 out for a race. If the track is unsafe, it’s for everyone.”

Though the Moto3 and Moto2 riders had not been consulted, talks had been held with some of the team managers. “Today, we did not have any riders from Moto2 or Moto3,” Loris Capirossi told the press conference.

“But we are also talking with some managers in Moto2 and Moto3 and when we decided with a strong decision like that we are thinking about safety. The safety needs to be the same for Moto2 and Moto3.”

If the surface not dispersing water properly, and not draining surface water, how did it get homologated? FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini had visited Silverstone to inspect the new surface back in March, shortly after it had been laid, and then a few days before the event was supposed to be run.

Road vs. track

The track had been perfect when he had first seen it in March, Uncini said. “I came at the beginning when they laid down the new asphalt that was at the end of February, and at the time I did the inspection and the tarmac looked very good, a matter of bumps, connection and also grip.”

“A factor that was confirmed by Cal Crutchlow who did a test on a bike one month later and he confirmed the two places that I said that were a little bumpy. The circuit reacted and adjusted these two bumps and in fact they said it was really perfect at this time.”

Cal Crutchlow confirmed that. “When I came here just before Le Mans the surface was basically brand new from the winter and it was completely… no bumps at all. But I rode it in 25 degrees, daylight.”

“So you can never tell. You can tell it’s a good surface, and it was a good surface, no bumps, and now it’s a lot of bumps and the water is obviously staying on top of the surface. But the bumps today were not the problem, we know that. It’s nothing to do with it.”

Crutchlow had tested the surface riding a Honda RCV1000R, shod with slicks, he said.

The change to the track had happened since that test, Franco Uncini explained. “Slowly we discovered at the time, and now we discovered during Formula 1 that it was bumpy.”

“It was from March to July that was the situation of the tarmac – I don’t know what happened. They will do a deep study in the next six weeks to see what is the reason because in February and March it was good.”

Mealy Mouthed

Silverstone Managing Director Stuart Pringle confirmed that the circuit would carry out tests, and engage an independent body to evaluate them.

“We need to make a serious investigation into this and we need to find out what has gone on…we need to get to the bottom of this…we will be getting some independent eyes on this as well.”

That investigation out to bring to light exactly what was causing the problems, Pringle said, and how the track had changed between March and July. “That’s precisely the kind of question that will be answered when we analyze the data,” he said.

“Thank goodness that we got the scans when we did, because we do have data now that we can analyze.” The circuit had laser scans of the surface, creating a 3D model of the track surface, taken both before and after the new asphalt had been laid, as well as after the F1 races in July.

That won’t answer the question of why the track doesn’t drain surface water fast enough, however.

Other series have complained of aquaplaning since resurfacing, and the website Daily Sports Car noted that the new surface had a tendency to accumulate standing water earlier this month. “In the wet it’s a far trickier track, as there’s no real drainage now, the water sitting on the surface,” they wrote.

Missing Inspector

Should this not have been picked up by Franco Uncini when he inspected the track? “There is no system to check the track in the wet,” Uncini explained in the press conference.

“We don’t check the track in the wet, we check in the dry and presume on wet it should be okay with the correct drainage and inclination of the track everywhere. We only trust the company who makes the asphalt and trust the circuit.”

There were things that they could check, Uncini said. “We just check that the circuit is not bumpy, has good grip, and is not slippery and that it is well done – there is no gap in between the kerbs and the asphalt. All these examples we cannot check when wet, for example when wet how wet does it need to be?”

“We need to consider whether it would be okay or not. What is the system to check that? Effectively the only system is to check with a MotoGP bike on a completely wet track which is quite impossible.”

What would that entail? First, having a rider on standby capable of riding a MotoGP bike close to race speed. Secondly, having a MotoGP bike ready and waiting at the track on a day when the track is wet.

Thirdly, having a time slot when a rider could test the wet track, even during a pre-booked event. Fourthly, not running into problems with noise levels produced by a MotoGP bike, which is a good bit louder than the average sports car, touring car, superbike, or everything except for a commercial jet.

The other alternative is trying to wet the track completely in an attempt to emulate heavy rain. As Dorna and the Losail International Circuit found at Qatar, this turns out to be incredibly difficult.

“Unfortunately, I have to admit to being a little bit surprised at how difficult it was to wet the track at Qatar to run the practice, how enormous that exercise is,” Mike Webb told us.

“And to be able to do the same here over the length of the track, to put serious amounts of water on the track, I’m doubtful whether we could achieve that and get a result that meant anything.”

Testing vs. Racing, No Context

Lining up a test on a fully wet day would be the best option, according to Webb. “But having a test on a day like yesterday or today? Yes, brilliant. But we just have in the right place at the right time.”

“Apart from that, this is new to us, because as Franco [Uncini] said, he evaluates the track for various things that mean something in the dry, grip and all of that. And everywhere we go, the track when it’s wet, yes it’s wet but the water drains away.”

“It might have a problem in two or three places, which you can attack and fix. This seems to be, sure, there are some places worse than others, but it seems to be everywhere.”

Silverstone MD Stuart Pringle, however, did his best to deflect any questions about blame, and who had failed in providing a surface that was up to racing in the rain.

“We need to make a serious investigation into this and we need to find out what has gone on,” he said. “I can’t do that now. I can’t give you any answers.”

“I know that the contractor, Aggregate Industries, did this because they are proud of their workmanship and proud of the quality of their product and they did this to gain brownie points, and for the benefits it would bring them, not to sit here at the end of a long day and have question marks placed over the quality of their workmanship.”

“But it would be unfair to round on them now when we don’t have data. We need data.”

https://twitter.com/AggregateUK/status/970645299088764928

Meanwhile, angry fans who had sat in the rain at Silverstone had found the Twitter feed of Aggregate Industries, and were piling on to their post about resurfacing Silverstone. The company’s Social Media manager is in for a nasty surprise when they return from the long Bank Holiday weekend on Tuesday.

The Buck Stops Here.

Try as Stuart Pringle might to deflect blame, a reckoning is coming for Silverstone, and for Aggregate Industries.

This is the first time since 1980 that a race had to be canceled, and then it was because of snow at the Salzburgring. (There have been plenty of events which were boycotted due to conditions, as Mat Oxley’s latest blog relates).

The fans who bought tickets for Sunday will have to be given a full refund, and those who had passes for multiple days will have to receive at least partial compensation.

As ticket sales are just about the only source of revenue for a circuit from a MotoGP race, this will leave Silverstone substantially out of pocket. They will not recoup the millions for Euros they pay to Dorna for the rights to hold the race, nor will Dorna forgo the fee.

They will have to resurface the track if they want to host a round of MotoGP at Silverstone once again, as everyone inside Dorna, and all of the riders agreed that this would be an absolute prerequisite.

They may be able to recoup the fee they paid to Aggregate Industries, or perhaps even the sanctioning fee they paid to Dorna, but that will cause complications if they want to work with the same firm to try to resurface the track again.

Pringle was clear about the track’s commitment to MotoGP, however. “We are committed to trying to run MotoGP here,” the Silverstone boss said.

“We haven’t worked this hard to get this far to just toss the towel in now, so we need to understand what’s gone on, and we need to understand what the implications of the requirements of that are.”

New Beginnings

But he was still optimistic of hosting the series in the future. “I’m actually really confident about the future of MotoGP at Silverstone, because we’re deadly serious about our commitment to the championship,” Pringle said.

Is he right to be confident? So far, Pringle’s confidence has proved to be little more than bluster. On Saturday, he assured us that the only reason for the problems with aquaplaning during FP4 was because of the exceptionally torrential rain in a short period.

On Sunday, with the kind of heavy rain you can reasonably expect on any English summer day (honestly, non-UK fans, that’s how cold and how wet it can sometimes be…) the track wouldn’t drain enough to allow the teams to race.

Somebody messed up. Who that is, is hard to pinpoint. What we can be sure of is that the resurfacing is a failure, and has failed to address the problems at the track. Where the blame lies for that is complicated.

Did the contractor, Aggregate Industries mess up? Did Silverstone mess up by allowing use of the track before it had properly settled and developed, or had the surface had enough time to cure? Did Silverstone make a mistake in awarding the contract to Aggregate?

Zaffelli Knows.

The truth lies in the middle of that knotty tangle. As renowned circuit designer Jarno Zaffelli told Italian website Corsedimoto, there are no simple answers. The circuit, the contractor, and the senior staff who signed off on this contract should all consider their positions.

Somebody needs to take responsibility for what started off as a minor cock up, but turned out to be a massive systemic failure. After all, what is the point of a circuit in the UK if it can’t handle a little rain during the weekend?

For a nuanced view of the complexities involved, I strongly recommend reading the Corsedimoto interview, even if you have to use an online translation tool such as Google Translate or Bing to translate the Italian into your own language.

Zaffelli points out that there are multiple parties involved in a resurfacing project, each with their own responsibilities, and those responsibilities can depend on just how the project is organized.

Zaffelli also points to the role of the riders: would they have been inclined not to race if Tito Rabat had not suffered such a horrendous injury on Saturday?

If he had not been hit by Morbidelli’s Estrella Galicia Honda, perhaps Rabat would be fit to race on Sunday, rather than waiting for months to heal up after a horrific accident.

The 2018 MotoGP round knew nothing but losers. The biggest losers are the circuit, and everyone working for them, as the track has managed to destroy its credibility, and lose the confidence of the MotoGP teams and management.

Dorna and IRTA made the right decision, but they did not cover themselves in glory by failing to organize a rider meeting. The riders and teams wasted a Sunday sitting around waiting for something to happen, twiddling their thumbs and doing nothing for the motorcycles involved.

But perhaps the biggest losers, and the most undeserved, were the MotoGP fans. They paid good money to sit in the cold and rain and get very wet, without the reward of seeing a race at the end of it.

The marshals, too, and the volunteers who help run the circus: without them, nothing is possible, and we would barely leave our own driveway, let alone go racing at the very highest level.

This cannot happen again. The UK is too important a market, and too important a keystone in the history of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, not to have a MotoGP round at a British track. But realistically, only Silverstone and Donington are capable of hosting Grand Prix racing.

The riders are refusing to race at Silverstone, and that leaves only Donington. At Misano, Dorna is due to publish the provisional 2019 MotoGP calendar.

You get the distinct feeling that the British GP will be added in pencil, rather than pen at this stage. And the venue is anybody’s guess.

Photo: MotoGP

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.







David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.

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